Finding Their Zen: How California UFCW Wastes Member Dues

Last week, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) chapters across Southern California began ramping up their campaign against some of America’s biggest grocers in what they called a “Week of Actions.” Even UFCW’s de facto leader, Local 7 President Kim Cordova, showed up all the way from Denver for selfies and Instagram posts.

We’ve heard their rhetoric before: frontline workers are underpaid, struggling to pay rent, and some can’t even afford food or new shoes at a time when American businesses are seeing record profits.

But are they telling the full story?

Union Dues

Take union dues, for example.

Imperfect Union has repeatedly urged the UFCW to halt the collection of member dues since the start of the pandemic, especially to help those struggling the most.

Yet, the UFCW has refused.

Since March 2020, UFCW locals in Southern California have collected up to $1,600 from members. The halting of those dues would have an immediate impact on many of these hard-working frontline heroes.

For example, one UFCW 770 member said she has had to resort to super gluing her shoes together because she “can’t afford to buy new ones” when she “can barely afford to buy food and pay for utilities.”

Sadly, John Grant and other leaders of the UFCW refuse to stop collecting those dues from their most vulnerable members, yet continue to collect six-figure salaries and enjoy lavish perks.

Pausing the collection of dues to help out employees should be the priority for union leaders, but it’s clearly not.


As another example from 2020, Local 770 used member dues to hire a yoga instructor for $1,600.

While that’s a relatively small line item in the union’s overall spending, when members can’t afford new shoes or pay rent, surely returning their dues instead of “finding Zen” with free yoga classes is a better use of member dollars, right?

John Grant’s Hardship Fund

Here’s another egregious example that flies in the face of the UFCWs motto, “Respect Us, Protect Us, Pay Us.”

Most UFCW Locals have a “Hardship Fund” to help alleviate unexpected and consequential financial pressures on their brothers and sisters.

Strangely, however, UFCW Local 770 disbursed only $13,835 to cover “Hardship Expenses” for their members at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Meanwhile, the union was sitting on a pile of cash worth $1.87 million.

That’s shameful.

So while union bosses continue demonstrations like their “Week of Actions” to demonize America’s grocers in Southern California, it’s important to highlight their own inaction on behalf of their members.

Perhaps Southern California UFCW chapters could take some action themselves and reimburse their members for the thousands they have spent on cars, furniture, yoga classes, “prepaid tickets” and holiday luncheons.

It also wouldn’t hurt to mention that, in contrast to self-serving union leaders, America’s grocers hired hundreds of thousands of workers during the pandemic and provided significant hourly-wage increases for their employees.

Sometimes, John, people in positions of power should take a look in the mirror rather than scapegoat others.